Spicing it up Like a Pro

By: Dana Rozansky and Rebecca Charur

Some cities have restaurant week. Some even have restaurant month. But Miami gets two long, glorious months of Miami Spice to reward those of us brave enough to stick it out during Miami’s sweltering summer heat. For any newbies or transplants in the mix, let me enlighten you about Miami’s signature restaurant promotion that I humbly believe puts other cities’ to shame. From August 1- September 30, we get to indulge in three-course lunches for $23 and dinners for $39 at more than 200 restaurants across the city. Yes, you read that correctly.

Now in its 17th year, Miami Spice has become a summer staple for locals who relish our city’s ‘slow season’ as an opportunity to check some places off our ever-growing bucket lists. And while the concept of Miami Spice has remained consistent year after year, that doesn’t mean it hasn’t evolved with the times. Each year, the newest, trendiest spots continue to grace us on the list of participating restaurants. So places that might have once seemed out the question are now within reach. And believe me, you’re going to want to reach with both hands when you see all of the tantalizing options.

Speaking of options, having 200+ restaurants to choose from is both a blessing and a curse. One could spend all day agonizing over which menu sounds the most appetizing or where to get the most bang for your buck. We’re here to make it easy and say ‘Don’t sweat it’ because we know you’re sweating enough this summer as is. Below you’ll find our handy guide to spicing it up like a pro this summer.

Shiny & New

Diez y Seis 

Cuisine: Mexican

Neighborhood: South Beach

Tell Me More: About a month after its opening, Diez y Seis joins the Spice lineup, which means I have yet another reason to go back. Dining here is an all-around amazing experience from the upbeat service and stunning pastel aesthetic to the Mezcal cart pushed around by a man in a sombrero. Throw a budget-friendly Spice menu into the mix, and the experience is one of a kind. 

Menu

 photo: GMCVB

photo: GMCVB

 photo: gmcvb

photo: gmcvb

Azabu

Cuisine: Japanese

Neighborhood: South Beach

Tell Me More: Not only is this the first year we can experience newcomer AZABU during Spice, but AZABU is also giving diners an extra perk. In addition to the three-course dinner menu, the restaurant will offer a chef’s selection starter of the day. For a glimpse into the menu itself, options include Japanese Wagyu Tataki Truffle Ponzu, Branzino with Umami Butter or Chirashi Sushi Bowl, and Matcha Cheesecake.

Menu

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Planta

Cuisine: Vegan

Neighborhood: South Beach

Tell Me More: Dave Grutman's vegan venture no doubt made waves in the Miami Beach food scene. By visiting one of the newest additions to Spice, you can now dine amongst celebrities while also keeping your summer bod looking hot. Planta South Beach is offering a wide variety of popular dishes for brunch and dinner, including Planta’s Maui Roll, Coconut Ceviche, and the Chef’s selection of soft serve (a truly instagrammable dish).

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Tried and True

Fi’lia

Cuisine: Italian

Neighborhood: Brickell

Tell Me More: Despite the fact that Fi’lia is only in its second year, I’m classifying it as ‘tried in true’ because I have probably eaten here nearly a dozen times and have never been disappointed. Whether you’re craving indulgent pasta and pizza or you want to keep it on the lighter side, Fi’lia’s spice menu offers up the perfect blend of options to meet your needs. Standout items include the panzanella, cannellini ragu and the summer truffle pizza. Or if you’re watching your girlish figure, go for the wood grilled scallops.

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Leynia

Cuisine: Argentinian / Asian

Neighborhood: South Beach

Tell Me More: Gone are the days where I have to choose between steak or sushi. Leynia, another sophomore in Miami Spice, packs its unique punch of Argentinian, wood-fired meats and Asian flare all into one affordable spice menu. Favorites include the stunning beef carpaccio, brussel sprouts, and pork belly confit with yuzu apples. 

Menu

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Matador Room

Cuisine: Latin

Neighborhood: South Beach

Tell Me More: Led by by James Beard Award–winning chef, Jean–Georges Vongerichten, Matador Room's Spice menu has never disappointed, and I can once again say that I left more than satisfied. The menu, available weekdays and Sunday evening, is anchored by signature dishes like the Maitake Mushrooms with Goat Cheese and Arroz con Pollo. Standout dishes also included the Florida Keys Wild Shrimp and the Jamon and Manchego Cheese Fritters.

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Best Bang for your Buck

Bazaar Mar

Cuisine: Seafood

Neighborhood: Brickell

Tell Me More: I ALWAYS recommend Bazaar Mar for dinner, but usually preface my suggestion with a caveat: it’ll cost you a pretty penny…So when there’s an opportunity to dine at this insanely gorgeous, delicious and special establishment for just $39, you should jump at it. The spice menu features some of my personal favorite items, including the California funnel cake which is a MUST. Other highlights include the croquetas de bacalao and the skirt steak. So go ahead and have yourself a fancy meal at a fraction of the price. You won’t regret it.

Menu

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Byblos

Cuisine: Mediterranean

Neighborhood: South Beach

Tell Me More: If Byblos has been on your foodie bucket-list for a while (like it was on mine), now is the time to check it off the list. Byblos' lineup is more than just your average Spice menu. Not only are you getting some of the restaurant's more popular dishes for $39, but you have the choice of TWO appetizers, an entree, a side AND dessert! Want to walk out feeling like you got your money's worth? This is your spot. 

Menu

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Bazaar by Jose Andres

Cuisine: Spanish

Neighborhood: South Beach

Tell Me More: One of my favorite things about Bazaar is its ingenuity. To truly experience the different layers of their creativity at a fraction of the price, Bazaar has put together a five course menu sprinkled with traditional Spanish tapas, like Patatas Bravas, and bold modern bites, like Kueh Pai Ti. Other standout dishes include Pisto, a medley of vegetables with a poached egg, and Yucca "Churros" with peanut butter.

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